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Garry Monk can run but no longer hide

The Garry Monk managerial roadshow recently gathered momentum again after Sheffield Wednesday appointed the 40-year-old as their new manager. Interestingly and perhaps even tellingly, the Owls have decided not to disclose the length of their new manager’s contract. Make of that what you will but the truth is that Monk hasn’t seen out his two previous contracts at Middlesbrough or Birmingham.

The one time that Monk looked set to finally extend a contract was at Leeds in May 2017 but as the new owner at the time, Andrea Radrizzani, was about to activate the clause which would have prolonged his stay at Elland Road by a further 12 months, Monk sensationally quit. It was a bold move by a man that adheres to one principle and one principle alone; Monk’s way or the highway.

The word from Monk’s camp was that he wasn’t satisfied with the terms Radrizzani was offering. However, when the former Swansea captain was appointed manager at Middlesbrough only two weeks after leaving Leeds, you’re all of a sudden more inclined to side with Leeds’ version of the story that Monk’s head was turned before any contract negotiations took place.

A bigger budget and a side better equipped for promotion was enough for Garry Monk to swap Elland Road for the Riverside but as we’re always warned in life, the grass is not always greener. It took just 23 matches for Boro owner Steve Gibson to sack Monk.

Since then, Monk made his way back into management with Birmingham in 2018 and in doing so helped them avoid relegation from the Championship. Monk’s first full season in charge at St Andrew’s was as impressive as it was controversial with the club docked nine points after breaching Financial Fair Play rules. Despite this, Monk once again kept the Blues safe from relegation to League One but that didn’t stop the club sacking him in the summer after only 15 months in charge, which you feel, despite Monk’s historic restlessness, was indeed a gamble.

Birmingham have been flirting with the drop from England’s second-tier for a while now and Monk’s sacking could finally see them teeter off the edge. That is the way the bookies see it at least with football betting sites like Space Casino pricing the Blues at 9/2 to go down. On this basis, it seemed like a crazy idea to let Monk go but the powers that be at St Andrew’s certainly had good reason to act in the way they did.

As we know, on this occasion, Monk wasn’t fired for the lack of results on the pitch but rather for concerns that the Birmingham owners had over Monk’s insistence that his agent be involved in every transfer deal, a claim that Middlesbrough have subsequently also supported. In an explosive interview with The Times, Birmingham CEO Xuandong Ren accused Monk of not caring about his job and even decided to wade into the murky business of trying to second guess Monk’s intentions by saying: “every time he gets sacked he gets richer”.

It seems extreme to accuse a man of intentionally trying to lose his job but whether he likes it or not, Monk now has a reputation in the game of a man who doesn’t hang around long before driving off into the sunset with a large severance package. Of course, it’s common knowledge these days that managing in football is a cruel and sometimes thankless task where unjustified sackings have become part and parcel of the game; however, for Garry Monk to not have spent longer than two years at any of the four clubs he has previously managed, is a red flag that can’t be ignored.

Perhaps the most peculiar aspect of Monk’s checkered past in football management is the fact that he is indeed a good manager with very decent man-management skills. If he really wanted to be successful at a club, he could certainly be but you get the feeling after suffering four different communication failures at previous jobs, that Monk actually does knows what is required of him in order for the past not to repeat itself, yet he still willfully makes the same ‘mistakes’.

Garry Monk can indeed run to Sheffield Wednesday to begin his fifth managerial job in five years but he can no longer hide from what turns these relationships sour.